At Health Coach Institute, it’s our mission to help you build a successful coaching career, in whatever industry you choose. That’s why we offer two different tracks you can take, depending on your specific career goals: Pathway and Become a Health Coach

We want to ensure that you select the program that is best suited for you, so in today’s post, we’ll be breaking down the main differences between these two foundational programs and who they’re created for. 

HCI’s Foundational Health Coach Training Programs: An Overview

In our flagship Become a Health Coach program, which we launched in 2015, you can earn dual certificates in Health and Life Coaching in just six months. This is a great option if you’re interested in launching your own coaching business, and in doing deep personal growth work yourself as you learn how to help others transform their lives. 

In 2020, we launched Pathway as an option for those interested in pursuing national board certification. As you are likely aware, the coaching industry is becoming increasingly regulated.  We’re thrilled to have created a course that provides a path to National Health & Wellness Certification, that aligns with our core philosophies, and provides the hands-on support our school is known for. This is the program for you if you want to earn your NBC-HWC credential, work in healthcare or corporate wellness settings, or you enjoy a more academically rigorous curriculum. 

What’s the Difference Between Pathway & Become a Health Coach?

Pathway ProgramBecome a Health Coach
What It is
An academic, interactive, and engaging course that’s designed to get you on the path to becoming a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach and will prepare you to sit for the Health & Wellness Coach Certifying Examination (HWCCE). In Pathway, you’ll learn how to coach clients without a script, how to empower clients to be the experts of themselves and what they need, the research behind coaching skills, and so much more.

A flexible, 100% online program developed and taught by professional Health and Life Coaches that teaches the fundamentals of coaching and how to run a business, and provides done-for-you materials to kickstart your career. This hands-on program includes practice work with clients, as well as a heavy emphasis on personal growth so you have both the confidence and firsthand experience to facilitate transformation in others. 
Duration6 months6 months (students have up to 12 months to complete coursework)
Format Curriculum is taught via both weekly live class sessions and pre-recorded lessons. Program also includes bi-weekly buddy coaching sessions, extensive individualized feedback, and access to a private Facebook group.  100% online and self-paced curriculum. Includes weekly pre-recorded lessons, Skills Labs to practice with peers, and 24/7 access to a private community.
Certificate(s) Earned Upon Successful Course Completion The Pathway curriculum was built specifically around the NBHWC competencies and includes extensive supportive feedback, helping you learn the coaching techniques you need to be most effective as a coach and removing the guesswork around how to prepare for and pass the HWCCE. In addition, the Pathway curriculum will accelerate your own personal growth and teach you a variety of coaching skills, current coaching research trends, evidence-based practices, and recognized coaching standards, including scope-of-practice.

Pathway curriculum
The BHC curriculum is based on behavioral psychology, neuroscience, intuitive listening, habit change, and healthy lifestyle design. In this program, you’ll learn the foundational knowledge to help others thrive on a holistic level across 5 key areas of life and how to launch a successful coaching career. This curriculum combines the fundamentals of Health & Life Coaching into one powerful curriculum that can be applied to any niche or field you want to help clients thrive in every area of their life.

BHC curriculum
Curriculum Overview
Graduate Career Opportunities Pathway graduates who successfully pass the Health & Wellness Coach Certifying Examination are eligible to work directly with healthcare providers, and pursue employment in the healthcare system or a corporate coaching setting BHC graduates have gone on to build flourishing coaching businesses, and find employment in a range of settings. Some launch their own business, some are already in the wellness industry but want to expand their services to include coaching, and some are looking for a flexible, rewarding career they can do from anywhere.
Instructors Brooke Jeffries

Brooke is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Certified Nutritionist, HCI’s Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, and the lead instructor of the Pathway Program. Read Brooke’s full bio here
Carey Peters & Stacey Morgenstern

Stacey and Carey are the co-founders of Health Coach Institute, National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches with a combined 25+ years of experience between them, and lead instructors of Become a Health Coach. Read their full bios here
Approvals/Accreditations Pathway an Approved Health and Wellness Coach Training & Education Program by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching. This means that after you graduate from the Pathway Program, you’re eligible to sit for the National Board Exam and can earn your NBC-HWC credential. Learn more.

BHC curriculum
BHC is CCE-accredited by the International Coach Federation—the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession. We’re also proud to be recognized as an approved training provider by the Canadian Health Coach Alliance, Federation of Holistic Therapists, and the International Institute for Complementary Therapists. Learn more.

BHC curriculum

Who This Course Is For
Pathway is for you if you want to: 

• Obtain your NBC-HWC credential 
• Work directly with healthcare providers 
• Get a job in the healthcare system or a corporate coaching setting 
• Learn how to coach clients without a script 
• Empower clients to be the experts of themselves and what they need 
• Learn the research behind coaching skills 
• Strengthen your coaching with two powerful coaching methodologies: Appreciative Inquiry and Motivational Interviewing
BHC is for you if you want to:

•Start or grow your own coaching business
•Expand your client services within an existing modality.
•Learn a proven framework you can apply to any coaching niche
•Learn the secret to creating successful lifestyle changes and •maintaining them long-term 
•Become the best, healthiest version of you while helping others do the same
•Learn both Health and Life Coaching techniques

What Grads Are Saying “I joined the Pathway Program for the advanced credentials to be able to work in a healthcare setting, to further my coaching knowledge and tool box to be able to reach more people, and for my own growth personally. I am excited to expand my reach into mainstream healthcare with coaching to help support the medical community with habit change for better health and make preventative care more the norm vs reactive care.”

Michelle Shnaider, Pathway Grad
“This program first changed my life and now I use it to help others change theirs. The community and support are never-ending, even after graduating. I appreciated the materials, handouts and other tools I was given to help me support my clients. HCI also does a fantastic job of helping coaches understand the actual business of becoming a coach so they can start out ASAP making money and changing lives.”
Jenny Beecher, BHC Grad

Both programs take six months to complete, but they vary quite extensively in most other ways. Below we’ll highlight some of the most important differences between the two tracks. 

The Bottom Line: Select a Program Based on Your Goals

Which program you choose ultimately depends on your end goal. Pathway is your best option if you’re seeking employment in healthcare or you want to obtain your NBC-HWC credential. On the other hand, if you’re interested in building your own business and you want a program that provides tons of done-for-you materials and a framework you can apply to Health Coaching, Life Coaching, or any other coaching niche—BHC is your best option.

You Can Take Both Programs for More In Depth Health Training!

That being said, you can opt to take both programs, as quite a few of our students have. While you certainly don’t need to, the programs are complementary, teaching different coaching methodologies and skills that can enhance your overall efficacy and success as a coach. It really depends on how far you want to take your training!

HCI Can Help You Achieve Your Career Goals

Interested in learning more about our programs and how HCI can help you build your ideal coaching career? Visit our Programs page to learn more or request program info. Or submit your info here to be contacted directly by a member of our team, who can chat through your career goals and aspirations, and help you determine your best path forward.

Become a Health Coach in 6 Months with Health Coach Institute

Coaching is a great career that you can help others, while also learning how to help your own personal growth. Health Coach Institute is a top health and wellness coaching certification program. Join our Become a Health Coach program and begin coaching in 6 months! If you are already a coach and want to advance your skills, check out HCI’s Coach Mastery program. Feel free to get in touch with with one of our clarity coaches directly, by calling 1-800-303-2399.


Health Coach Institute provides aspiring Health and Life Coaches with the tools, training, and support to make a great living transforming lives.